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Ontario ombudsman urges stronger enforcement of LTC rules

TORONTO — Ontario’s ombudsman says the Ministry of Long-Term Care needs to put in place clear rules for in-person inspections to prepare for a future pandemic and immediately act when residents are at risk of ongoing serious harm.

Paul Dube’s report today on the inspection regime for long-term care homes during the COVID-19 outbreak says that there were no inspections for the first seven weeks of the pandemic and no inspection reports issued for the first two months.

Dube says inspections stopped because the ministry had no plan to ensure inspectors’ safety, with no personal protective equipment available for them and a lack of training in infection prevention and control.

His 76 recommendations include urging the ministry to ensure it always has staff available for in-person inspections.

Dube also says his investigation found many instances in which inspectors were deployed to “support” homes rather than enforce compliance with legislation and sometimes gave homes reduced penalties, so he recommends stronger enforcement.

The ministry told Dube it has already fully or partially implemented more than half of his recommendations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 7, 2023.

The Canadian Press